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Change Maker: Hiten Ganatra, Visionary Finance

  • 23/06/2023
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Change Maker: Hiten Ganatra, Visionary Finance
As part of the Change Makers initiative, Mortgage Solutions spoke to Visionary Finance MD, Hiten Ganatra about why diversity and inclusion starts at a grass roots level.

Ganatra launched Visionary Finance in 2008, a broker firm offering advice on residential mortgages, buy to let, business finance, development and commercial finance, general insurance and life insurance. It has since grown to a 14-strong team.

He is an advocate for greater diversity and inclusion in the industry, and has been vocal about the need to attract more people to the mortgage industry as well as the need for better financial education.


Why were you nominated as a Change Maker?

I am a keen advocate for the fact that everyone should have a voice and that we need to do more as an industry to make the mortgage market more inclusive, balanced and accessible to everyone, whether that is as a borrower or as an industry that people want to work in.

I have always been fairly vocal in my views and I am a firm believer in putting my head above the parapet when it comes to vocalising controversial ideas and sharing knowledge and experiences.

Other people may not like or agree with what I have to say, and that’s okay, debate should be encouraged. But it’s important not to feel afraid when it comes to vocalising our beliefs and what we consider to be important.  Everybody has a voice and they should be able to use it.


Why does this mean so much to you?

Encouraging people to speak up and use their voice gives people a sense of achievement and can make them feel part of something, no matter their background or beliefs. This helps to promote diversity and inclusivity as it makes people feel valued, it makes them feel empowered and it encourages others to act in the same way.

The mortgage industry is crying out for fresh talent and we urgently need to attract more people from all walks of life into the industry. We need fresh blood, we need young blood, we need people from every type of background so that the industry can flourish and is representative of the people it caters for.

We often still hear the phrase “middle-aged white man” associated with the mortgage market and wider financial services industry despite the fact that more women, people of differing nationalities and ethnicities and younger people work in the mortgage industry than ever before. We need to look at why this is and how we can change it, because it is changing.


What do you think your career demonstrates to others?

That knowledge is the most powerful tool you can have when carving out a career for yourself in this industry, in any industry for that matter. Again, this comes back to not being afraid to use your voice, to feel comfortable asking questions and in some cases to stick your neck out and challenge the status quo.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t know anything about property or mortgages, but after buying my first investment property, learning about the process and not being afraid to ask questions, I set up a business in 2008 aimed at helping others achieve the same goals.

Obviously, there have been challenges along the way, and I am by no means the oracle, but it was my own knowledge around the buy-to-let sector that gave me the confidence to make the leap and put me in good stead to speak with like-minded customers. Eventually this translated into more conversations and more clients and helped me to generate and build a pool of networks and connections for which I am still very grateful to this day.


What can we do to help address some of the issues around diversity and inclusion in the mortgage industry?

If we are to really ensure we address the issue of inclusivity and diversity in the mortgage industry and broader financial services sector as a whole, we need to start at a grass roots level to ensure everyone gets the same opportunities irrespective of their background or upbringing.

Financial education in schools is absolutely critical to achieving this as it provides the stepping stones to building a successful and comfortable future for every child in the UK. Many parents may not be in position to educate their children on financial matters, so let’s go back to the start and make it part of the learning process.

Schools should be educating children on what taxes are, why savings are important and how bank accounts work. They should be taught about mortgages; what they are and what they do, as all these things set the foundations for building a solid financial future and may even encourage some children to enter the sector later in life.


What further things do you think the industry needs to do and how can individuals make a difference?

Personally, I do a lot of charity work in India as it is important to me to remember my roots and pay it back in some way. As an industry, I think we could all do more and if we all came together and looked at ways in which this could be achieved, I think we could make a brilliant change.

I think it is incumbent on people within the industry to pay it forward; to use their knowledge and experience to voluntarily work with their local communities to help others. This may mean spending half a day at a local school talking to the staff and children about mortgages or buying a house or why being mortgage free in later life can lead to a more comfortable retirement.

We are all present in our communities and have clients that are teachers, parents or school governors, so the contacts are already there. It is not difficult to open yourself up to that type of voluntary service and help others become more financially literate.

We work in a very money-oriented sector and I think sometimes we all need to step back and demonstrate more humility and remember our roots and the fact that we all had to start somewhere.


What does it mean to you to be nominated as a Change Maker?

It is an honour as I really don’t think of myself as doing anything particularly ground breaking other than what I love and feel passionate about, which is encouraging people to speak up, have a voice and get themselves heard.

I set up my business 15 years ago because of a love of property investment. Many other people have done this bigger and better than me, and have greater knowledge than I have, so it is humbling to be part of the Change Maker initiative.

It also shows you don’t need to be an industry stalwart to get your voice heard, you just need a platform and go from there. Taking those first steps can be daunting, but with risk comes reward. Sticking your head above the parapet, asking questions or trying to drive change is important. Speaking up is the only way you will get heard.


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